Mayor Mike McGinn and City staff held the first public meeting on the Mayor’s Youth and Families Initiative on Monday, Feb. 22. This was the first in a series of five public workshops to help define a youth and families agenda for Seattle. The other four meetings will be held on March 1 at Northgate Elementary School, March 8 at Van Asselt Elementary School, March 15 at Denny Middle School, and March 22 at Garfield Community Center. For more information please visit the Mayor’s Web site.
Kip Tokuda blogs on Youth & Family Initiative
Helping youth and families is integral to the Seattle Human Services Department’s mission to connect people with the resources and solutions they need. Every day, we work with our community partners to help children learn and thrive through our preschool, child care, youth and nutrition programs, and to support parents, families and seniors through family centers, citizenship education for refugees and immigrants, and services for elders. We also provide vital services for homeless people and domestic violence victims.
We are excited by the Mayor’s Youth and Family Initiative and are looking forward to hearing and learning from voices across the city about the challenges people are facing in these tough times and about creative solutions for tackling these problems. As we move forward with the plan, it’s important to keep in mind the good work we already are doing in this arena and to build on our successes. This is particularly important in a time of economic distress and limited resources. For more information about the Human Services Department, please visit www.seattle.gov/humanservices.
— Kip Tokuda, Acting Director, Seattle Human Services Department
Construction starts on child care space in County building
Construction began last week on the child care facility to be located in King County’s Chinook Building, located at 5th Ave. and Terrace St. The City is providing nearly $1 million to this project, which will bring approximately 60 new child care slots to the downtown Seattle core. Construction is expected to end in late May, and the program operator is developing a wait list. The center is expected to be open near the end of summer.
Poor communities bear brunt of recession
“There is a great tendency in this country to refuse to see what is right in front of everybody’s eyes,” wrote Bob Herbert in his Feb. 8 column in the New York Times. “While there is now, finally, a great deal of talk among the politicians and in the news media about unemployment, there is still almost a willful refusal to focus on just who is suffering the most from joblessness and underemployment….For those in the lower-income groups, the scale of the employment crisis has been mind-boggling.” Read the rest of the article here.
City raises funds for prostituted youth program
As of the end of January, the City had raised enough money to fund the initial year of operations for a pilot residential recovery program for prostituted children, the first of its kind in the state.
The total cost for the two-year pilot program is nearly $1.5 million. To date, the City has raised $1.2 million, including $150,000 from the Gates Foundation, $10,000 from the Women’s Funding Alliance and $10,000 from the Dorsey & Whitney Foundation. Stone Gossard and Mike McCready of the Seattle rock band Pearl Jam are among a number of major private donors.
Funding for the project was originally planned to come from King County, but that funding was sharply reduced last fall because of the county’s budget shortfall. Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess and the Seattle Human Services Department turned to private funders to make up for the loss of county funds.
The new program will provide residential recovery services for prostituted youth age 14 to 17 in King County. The Seattle Human Services Department will contract with YouthCare to serve up to 20 prostituted youth per year in a homelike setting with around-the-clock staffing. Specialized prostitution recovery services will include counseling for traumatic stress, chemical dependency treatment, survivor support groups and health education. Clients will also receive medical care, life skills training and support for education, job skills and job placement. United Way of King County will fund a two-bed shelter program as part of the recovery program.
The inception of the program dates back to 2008, when the Human Services Department commissioned a study by researcher Debra Boyer, Ph.D., who estimated that there are between 300 and 500 prostituted children in King County, some as young as 13 years old. Prostituted children are subject to severe physical and psychological abuse from pimps and “johns.” They often experience mental illness and substance abuse problems. Recovery from the resulting trauma requires extensive and highly specialized services provided in a safe setting.
The Human Services Department was also recently awarded a special grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund a prostituted youth advocate who will be located at YouthCare.
Private donations to fund the second year of the project are still being accepted. Donations are tax-deductible and checks should be made out to the City of Seattle Prostituted Children Rescue Fund and mailed to the City of Seattle Prostituted Children Rescue Fund, c/o Seattle Human Services Department, PO Box 34215, Seattle, WA 98124-4215. The City also accepts credit card donations to the fund which may be made by calling the City of Seattle’s Treasury Department at (206) 684-3911. Ask that your contribution be deposited in the Prostituted Children Rescue Fund.
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